Colorado Travel Planning Guides : All Aboard : Durango Section : A Green Train

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All Aboard! Durango & Silverton Railroad Guide
A Colorful History Meets a Green Future at the D&SNGRR
by Andrea Seid

Matt Fenton, D&SNG Warehouse Manager
prepares to deposit Green Bottle Spring Water into the ORCA
Green Machine for composting. photo courtesy > Yvonne Lashmett

While American Heritage Railways, parent company of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, is dedicated to preserving the history and authenticity of the railroad, it's also committed to moving toward the most modern and creative ways to be "green."

Over the last five years, railroad owners Allen and Carol Harper have significantly increased efforts to mitigate smoke emissions and offset the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the railroad's vehicle fleet. Working with the local organization CarbonZero, the railroad is financing the planting of more than 2,500 trees in the community, which will sequester an amount of carbon equal to emissions of 13 trucks and four busses over their useful lives.

One of the most successful efforts in recent years has been the installation of scrubbers on the roundhouse smokestacks. A coal-fired engine remains fired up between its daily trips, but its emissions while idling can be mitigated with such innovative features. In addition, the railroad is now using compressed sawdust wood pellets, a byproduct of the manufacturing at Muscanell Millworks, located in neighboring Mancos, CO, to fuel the locomotives overnight.

This has reduced smoke and particulates during the idling hours. Seeing a new opportunity to go one step further, the railroad is now the proud owner of the state-of-the-art ORCA Green™ Machine. According to Totally Green, the manufacturer, this machine is a revolutionary alternative to traditional organic waste disposal and is a "self-contained bioreactor." The ORCA is able to reduce up to 2,400 pounds of garbage every day into a nutrient-rich non-potable water that can safely be disposed of through the sanitary sewer system. The ORCA uses natural microorganisms to decompose organic waste into liquid "compost tea" and trace amounts of CO2. In addition to reducing garbage from the ecosystem, ORCA Green™ actually eliminates organic waste.
In conjunction with obtaining the ORCA, the railroad has gone to using Green Bottle Spring Water, made with plant materials rather than petroleum-based plastic. These fully compostable, clean-burning green bottles can be responsibly disposed of through several different methods. An industrial compost facility, incineration or through PLA specific recycling all provide an environmentally healthy end-of-life for the bottles, keeping tens of thousands of bottles out of our landfills, wild spaces and oceans. American Heritage Railways' mission is to preserve and guard the history of this treasure we call the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. And in an effort to preserve it for generations to come, environmental initiatives will continue to be an integral part of the mission, as well.


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Voted One of the World's Top
Ten Most Exciting Train Rides by the Society of American Travel Writers in 2008 and the Number One North American Train Trip by National Geographic Traveler in 2010!
Bar D Chuckwagon Suppers
(888) 800-5753
(970) 247-5753

Famous Western Stage Show, Delicious Barbecue Supper. Open nightly Memorial Day weekend thru Labor Day. Reservations required.

Historic Strater Hotel
699 Main St.
(800) 247-4431
At the Strater Hotel, we offer unique accommodations you won't find anywhere else, fine dining, to saloon bars, old west gun fights, nationally recognized theatre, and much more.

Fox Fire Farms
5513 Co. Rd. 321
(970) 563-4675
Private tasting parties or groups welcome. Open daily 1pm - 6pm. Must be 21 or older. Just 30 mins. from Durango!

Southern Ute Cultural Center & Museum
77 County Rd. 517
(970) 563-9583
Live our story!

Boot Barn
830 S. Camino Del Rio, Durango
(970) 385-1054
Largest selection of Western and work wear in the country.

Natalia's 1912 Restaurant
1159 Blair St.
(970) 387-5300
Fast Friendly & Affordable. Serving bodaciously good food for the hungry masses.

The Jewelry Works
965 Main Ave.
(970) 247-3173
Creators of custom one-of-a-kind jewelry.

1219 Greene St.
(800) 341-3340
World-famous French Onion soup. Live Honky Tonk Piano. Full bar with micobrews on tap.

Fort Lewis College
(970) 247-7176
Fort Lewis College launches careers and changes lives through a compelling educational experience that features top-quality academics, extraordinary personal attention from faculty, opportunities for broad intellectual exploration, and a welcoming campus community.

Durango Silverton Train, Events, Activities, Lodging, Dining and Shopping

D&SNGRR Durango Silverton Surrounding Communities
Calendar of Events
Welcome to Silverton
Mesa Verde
Train Schedule & Fare
Activities & Attractions
Dining Telluride
D&SNGRR Museum
Behind the Scenes
Gift Shop
Notorious Blair Street

A Green Future
Respectable Greene Street
Other Railroads
In the Movies
Steamworks Brewery
Winter in Silverton
Great Smokey Mountain Railroad

Nomad Presidential Car
Bar D Chuckwagon
Silverton Map
Jose Cuervo Express

San Juan Car Soaring Tree Top Adventures

Texas State Railroad

True West Railfest 8/16-19
Durango Day or Night Order Guide

Employee Profiles Durango Map


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